ISIS: Jihadi European Operatives’ Structure & "Endgame"

No one can claim to have a unique insight into the “endgame” of ISIS as far as Europe is concerned. I am not sure that ISIS “leadership” could give a well-rounded response to that query either. The stated aim of ISIS and its self-declared “caliphate” is the dissemination of their brand of radical Islam across the globe, to obviously include the “Islamification” of Europe.

The ISIS apparatus organises itself in a fashion that does not concern itself with national and regional politics but rather is in favour of an over-arching unifying call to all Muslims in the context of the Mahdi and the “end of days” concept. It is an apocalyptic creed.

The ISIS plan in Europe, if one can call it that, is characterised by opportunistic and ad-hoc activities which can therefore not necessarily be considered strategic or centrally planned and therefore are incredibly difficult to effectively predict and prevent.

Despite the ISIS cell structures exposed after the Hebdo, Bataclan, Zaventem and Maelbeek atrocities – the previous MO and likely future continued approach of the group will be to appeal to “lone wolf” (LW) type operatives for the majority of their “ops”.

The el Bakraoui Brothers & Abdeslam 

The Zaventem and Maelbeek attacks were allegedly fast-tracked in response to the arrest of Salah Abdeslam and his apparent co-operation with the authorities. The decision to accelerate the schedule was made unilaterally by the cell, not ISIS leadership, if correspondence later found on a laptop apparently belonging to Ibrahim el Bakraoui can be believed.

Sven Mary, Abdeslam’s lawyer, will try to have his eventual sentence reduced on the grounds that he is/was (before the Brussels attacks) acting as an informant – although obviously nothing he told interrogators prevented the Brussels atrocities.

While ISIS cells will carry out “spectaculars” like Brussels and Paris again, the intervening periods are more likely to consist of types similar to Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein in Copenhagen (Feb 2015), Rafik Mohamad Yousef in Berlin (Sep 2015) , Tarek Belgacem in Paris (Jan 2016) and several other LWs who have carried out attacks in France, Serbia, Hungary, Denmark and Poland in the last twelve months which were later explicitly claimed by ISIS or which individuals were later found to have been affiliated or sworn allegiance to the group or carried out the attacks in support of ISIS objectives.

Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein

 Rafik Mohamad Yousef
Tarek Belgacem

Despite the LW nature of these attacks they can be just as devastating. And act as a constant reminder of the ever-present threat that now exists from radical Islamists across the continent.

ISIS of course has its origins in the Sunni insurgency following the invasion of Iraq by the George W. Bush administration. This initially gave rise to Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which eventually split from core Al Qaeda, in part because of its shocking violence towards other Muslims.

In “The Management of Savagery” a book published over a decade ago by AQI leaders a strategy was laid out that suggested the use of spectacular acts of brutality and displaying them across media platforms in order to goad Western powers into ground wars in the Middle East.

ISIS, like AQI before it, includes in its highest ranks former Baathist members of Saddam Hussein’s military apparatus, who joined the militant group after the Bush administration’s de-Baathification policies and after the U.S.-backed sectarian regime in Baghdad proved unwilling to include Sunnis in government.

This took notice of the jihadi lessons learned in the guerrilla war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. By employing the tactic of high impact terrorism in Europe some observers suggest that ISIS is seeking to galvanize opinion that will ultimately result in European powers taking a hardline interventionist approach in the Middle East.

ISIS believe that the resulting intensified air war or ground invasions to battle ISIS in their heartlands, as reaction to attacks in Europe, would be incredibly costly for any coalition and has a high likelihood of yielding counterproductive blowback and unintended consequences for Europe.

Furthermore it plays to the ISIS narrative of the Anti-Islam Crusader mentality that they claim is prevalent in Europe and as such increase recruitment to their cause locally and internationally.

At present the ISIS aim in Europe is to intimidate, disrupt and demoralize and in the process recruit more operatives – cells or LWs. Increasingly spectacular attacks followed by reprisal will attract further disenfranchised recruits.

Whatever way you choose to describe ISIS actions in Europe – opportunistic, tactical, strategic – the intended result is the same – polarize opinion in Europe resulting in the further marginalization of Muslims and Muslim communities. This can only be good for their “cause”.

Didier Leroy, is a leading terrorism researcher at the Royal Military Academy of Belgium and an adjunct at the Free University of Brussels. When asked what did the Brussels attacks reveal about the aims of ISIS in Europe he said:

“The Brussels attacks have been, without much surprise, claimed and celebrated by ISIS supporters. Ideologically, the symbolic dimension of the targets—the Brussels international airport, less than 5 kilometers away from NATO headquarters, and the Maelbeek subway station, near the main institutions of the European Union—reflects ISIS’s dual view of the world: the struggle of a Muslim oppressed world against a Western oppressing world.

At the level of the modus operandi, we find several common features shared by the French and Belgian commandos: relatively small cells of determined individuals hitting as many “soft” (civilian) targets as possible. Historically there are almost no links between Belgium and Syria or Iraq. I am still rather skeptical about the depth of structural connections between these young jihadi candidates and ISIS, which is a Middle Eastern phenomenon in the first place (and the so-called Caliphate has regional priorities before global ones).

I see ISIS as a “heterarchical” organization, characterized by an undisputed leader—the self-proclaimed Caliph Ibrahim—but also by a shared decisional process. The ISIS central command in Rakka could be regarded as a vertical entity, which becomes more “horizontal” when it reaches the external layer of foreign recruits. There certainly is a central, top-down policy calling on fighters to hit enemies of the “Islamic State project” wherever possible, but the when, the how, etcetera, are left to the initiative of individuals or small groups—it’s up to them to decide the best way to proceed. Most of these recruits obviously know their countries of origin well, have grown up with the Internet and the images of 9/11 in their minds, and are determined to “do better” than old-fashioned al-Qaeda.”

Marc Trevidic: “ISIS using lone wolf attackers in Europe as smoke screen for larger plots”

In another take on ISIS plans for Europe the following article appeared in The Telegraph on 29 MARCH 2016 • 1:39PM.

ISIS is flooding Europe with low-level, unsophisticated attack plans to swamp intelligence agencies while larger atrocities are secretly plotted, a senior counter-terrorism judge has warned. The terror group has had Europe in its sights for up to four years, it is feared, and sent dozens of jihadists back to carry out lone-wolf attacks. “It served to put all of our agencies on edge. Just like a smoke screen, it allowed them to calmly prepare,” said Marc Trevidic, who retired as France’s chief counter-terrorism judge last year. The offensive was orchestrated by Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian mastermind behind the Paris atrocity in November, which left 130 dead.

Abaaoud, who was killed in the weeks after the attacks, is feared to have been at the head of a 90-strong cell of jihadists spread across Europe. It has also emerged he has persuaded some fanatics to return to attack Europe by convincing them it is better that facing the horrors of the war in Syria, according to files seen by the New York Times. Prior to his death, he was a senior figure in a unit within Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, tasked with directing attacks on European soil. Fighters are sent back and told to decide their own targets so limit the chances of plots being traced back to the unit.

END.

So you "Stand with France"?

Please note: This article was inspired by the LinkedIn post by Peter Coffman, Student at Command and General Staff College

What happened in Paris, France last week was an act of war by Radical Islam against the West. A declaration made by ISIS on behalf of myriad well known terrorist groupings, their franchisees and all their adherents (a significant portion of whom live in the West).

This is not a well defined enemy denoted by geographic borders with a clear set of strategic targets to be overrun to ensure their defeat. The enemy and the objectives which motivate them are mind bending in their complexity and they are global, see a small subset below:

Abu Sayyaf, Philippines; Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Egypt; Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Gaza Strip and West Bank; Al-Shabaab, Somalia; Al-Qaeda, Global; Ansar al-Islam, Iraq; Armed Islamic Group (GIA), Algeria; Boko Haram, Nigeria; Caucasus Emirate (IK), Russia; East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), China; Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Egypt; Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front (IBDA-C), Turkey; Hamas, Gaza Strip and West Bank; Harkat-ul-Mujahideen al-Alami, Pakistan; Hezbollah, Lebanon; Islamic Movement of Central Asia, Central Asia; Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan; Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Iraq and Syria; Jaish-e-Mohammed, Pakistan and Kashmir; Jamaat Ansar al-Sunna, Iraq; Jemaah Islamiyah, Indonesia; Lashkar-e-Taiba, Pakistan and Kashmir; Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Pakistan; Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Philippines; Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, Morocco and Europe; Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Gaza Strip and West Bank; Tawhid and Jihad, Iraq.

And now, caught in a moment of outrage, the public demand action and ask “how has it come to this?”

People would do well to remember the following:

1. You think something should be done about ISIS. Its high time, right? So who is going to do it? You? Probably not. Less than 1% of America joined up to fight in the last 20 years. So remember what it means when you say “we” should go to war. You are sending others.

2. So they go … then two months later, you are into the latest that the Kardashian’s are doing. You lose interest. The West does not have the stomach to see it through and leaves early, or the public hamstring the military into unachievable political goals for the sake of appeasement (which never worked before) or (insert random thing here).

3. While the military are there, they will need things. Things like money and lots of it to bring the military to where it needs to be to wage effective war after a decade of cutbacks.  Why? Because the politicians you voted for have stripped down the military and Army to balance the budget (instead of removing funds from more logical areas). The US military was supposed to be able to fight two wars in two places at once. Now they cannot.

4. To tackle the enemy within – Western governments will need greater central powers – mass surveillance, erosion of civil liberties, closure of borders, restrictions on free travel, checkpoints and so on. Powers that must be surrendered by the military and the state when the fight is over. Safeguarding the future of our open societies post conflict is as important as defeating the jihadists thugs.

5. While war is waged, people will die. You may become upset that civilians died, or soldiers, or cats and dogs, or (insert random thing here). Really? It is war. Have realistic expectations and understand that collateral damage is a fact of life during conflict.

6. Free speech for those ISIS apologists, recruiters, illegal immigrant facilitators, anti-war movements and so on must be suppressed during this time. You are either on our side or you are the enemy. These are the standards that have always applied when a nation is fighting for its survival. You cannot “half” wage war.

7. ISIS is one thing, but Russia, China and Iran have been emboldened by the disastrous foreign policy of the Obama administration. The West does not have enough manpower to tackle these adversaries and a global terrorist network – be careful what you mandate your elected representatives to do during this emotional time but most importantly accept that your direct participation may be required.

8. Pay attention and stay informed. You know more about your favourite football team or movie star than you do about how Radical Islam has been allowed to flourish on your doorstep and within your communities. If they succeed – football and the movies is not on the Radical Islamists Sharia playbook of acceptable pastimes for you.

9. The geopolitical imperatives surrounding the problems in Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya and the national security impact of the refugee crisis in Europe escape the vast majority of the public. Merkel, Pope Francis and other ultra liberals have compromised your safety and will continue to do so unless they are halted. Get educated on the issues and the real threat that Radical Islam poses to your way of life and allow yourself to make better decisions and comment intelligently without pandering to the most simplistic ultra-liberal lowest common denominator that has landed you in this mess in the first place.

10. And after all of that, if you decide to hobble the military politically and socially instead of concentrating on allowing them to train for and execute a war in a strategic manner, then when the next Paris occurs (and it will – soon and on an ongoing basis) then consider yourself as culpable in this as those crazed radical islamist jihadi gangs who slaughtered hundreds of innocents last week while they sat unarmed in the theatre, restaurant or bar.

Get some perspective. 

Ahmed Meguini – Exclusive Thalys Arras vidéo à l’intérieur du train

Credit – Ahmed ‪#‎Meguini‬: Exclusive ‪#‎Thalys‬ ‪#‎Arras‬ vidéo à l’intérieur du train avant l’intervention de la police – interior of the train prior to ‪#‎police‬ intervention showing injured passengers & subdued ‪#‎Moroccan‬ gunman Ayoub ‪‪#‎elQahzzani‬ https://youtu.be/RmmB62KQtwA

Avoiding the Creation of a 21st Century “Stasi” in France

France has powerful intelligence agencies and highly sophisticated capabilities. However, similar to all Western agencies they do not possess the requisite legal powers, manpower or resources to conduct highly intrusive and persistent surveillance of thousands of individuals, many of whom will have never been charged with a crime.
Even if they did, the public attitude to and willingness to support blanket surveillance of large segments of the population, plays to the fears of many who see in that action echoes of George Orwell’s dystopian concept of “thought crime” surveillance.
The challenge is to identify which networks of individuals deserve further attention. In light of recent events, the upswell of public outrage at the Hebdo attacks, the mass migration to Southern Europe of refugees fleeing the conflicts in the Middle East, North Africa and Sub Saharan Africa as well as Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen and a general perception in France that French society is under attack from within, would it be possible to speculate that the French are unwittingly considering the creation of the own Stasi? Albeit in a more benign guise and with best intentions. 


The Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS) or The Ministry for State Security commonly known as the Stasi was the official state security service of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), colloquially known as East Germany. The service was headquartered in East Berlin and has been described as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies to have ever existed.
One of its main tasks was spying on the population, mainly through a vast network of citizens turned informants, and fighting any opposition by overt and covert measures, including hidden psychological destruction of dissidents. Without the aid of modern technology the Stasi in East Germany ran a network of over 2,000,000 informants and ostensibly had an entire nation under active surveillance and effectively so.
The Buttes-Chaumont Network & the Charlie Hebdo Watershed
The protagonists of the Charlie Hebdo attacks were known not just to the French authorities but to other European authorities and their counterparts in the United States. It is well known and has been widely reported that one had travelled to Yemen over a three-year period and another had been convicted of earlier seeking to travel to Iraq and that they were both associated with long-established European jihadist networks.
Cherif was part of the “Buttes-Chaumont network” that assisted would-be jihadists fight for al-Qaeda in Iraq after the invasion in 2003. He was detained in 2005 just as he was about to board a plane for Syria which at that time was a gateway for jihadists looking to fight US troops in Iraq. The Kouachi brothers had allegedly attended a mosque near Buttes-Chaumont, an area of northern Paris, where they came under the influence of a radical imam called Farid Benyettou.
Following Cherif’s imprisonment between January 2005 and October 2006, he first came into contact with the man who would become his mentor – Djamel Beghal. Beghal was sentenced to 10 years in prison in France in 2001 for his part in a plot to bomb the US embassy in Paris. In 2008, Cherif was again jailed for three years for his role in sending militants to Iraq, 18 months of the sentence was suspended.
AQII Flag

                                        
Another key figure in the Buttes-Chaumont network was Boubaker al-Hakim, a militant linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq. al-Hakim also recruited militants to fight in Falluja, an Iraqi city that became an al-Qaeda stronghold in 2004. 

al-Hakim is also wanted in Tunisia over the murder of two Tunisian left-wing opposition politicians in 2013 – he claimed the murders in the name of the Islamic State militant group. A French court jailed al-Hakim for seven years in 2008.
That action appeared to break up the jihadist network that Beghal, al-Hakim and Cherif Kouachi had created.
In 2010 Cherif Kouachi was named in connection with a plot to assist in the escape of another Islamist, Smain Ait Ali Belkacem, from jail. 

A plot hatched by Beghal, according to French anti-terror police. 

Belkacem used to be in the outlawed Algerian Islamic Armed Group (GIA) and was jailed for life in 2002 for a Paris metro station bombing in 1995 which injured 30 people.
Original GIA Flag

                       

AQAP Flag

The older Kouachi undertook military training in Yemen in 2011, where he met the influential preacher Anwar al-Awlaki. 

Awlaki was a senior figure in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). 

The branch of al-Qaeda that has proven most effective at placing bombs on Western-bound aircraft, and which claimed responsibility for the Hebdo attacks.
It is important to remember, however, that thousands of people would have been connected to these very same networks, some of which are well over a decade old. On top of this, more than 1,200 French nationals – a large proportion of whom would be previously unknown – have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight with Islamic State in the last few years. About 350 have returned according to unofficial figures.


The “Five Eyes”
The French authorities and their foreign counterparts, especially those in Yemen and the US, shared intelligence that might, taken together, have thrown up insight that the individual portions could not. One report suggests that France de-prioritized the Kouachi brothers because Yemen was a US priority, whereas American officials left it to the French.
France is not a member of the US-led Five Eyes intelligence alliance – a fact which may have contributed to the threat detection failure that led to the recent attacks.
The “Five Eyes”, often abbreviated as “FVEY”, refer to an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries are bound by the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.

Click image to enlarge

The origins of the FVEY can be traced back to World War II, when the Atlantic Charter was issued by the Allies to lay out their goals for a post-war world. During the course of the Cold War, the ECHELON surveillance system was initially developed by the FVEY to monitor the communications of the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, although it allegedly was later used to monitor billions of private communications worldwide.
In the late 1990s, the existence of ECHELON was disclosed to the public, triggering a major debate in the European Parliament and, to a lesser extent, the United States Congress. As part of efforts in the ongoing War on Terror since 2001, the FVEY further expanded their surveillance capabilities, with much emphasis placed on monitoring the World Wide Web.
The former NSA contractor Edward Snowden described the Five Eyes as a “supra-national intelligence organisation that doesn’t answer to the known laws of its own countries”. Documents leaked by Snowden in 2013 revealed that the FVEY have been spying on one another’s citizens and sharing the collected information with each other in order to circumvent restrictive domestic regulations on surveillance of citizens.
In 2013, documents leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the existence of numerous surveillance programs jointly operated by the Five Eyes. The following list includes several notable examples reported in the media:


  • PRISM – Operated by the NSA together with the GCHQ and the ASD
  • XKeyscore – Operated by the NSA with contributions from the ASD and the GCSB
  • Tempora – Operated by the GCHQ with contributions from the NSA
  • MUSCULAR – Operated by the GCHQ and the NSA
  • STATEROOM – Operated by the ASD, CIA, CSEC, GCHQ, and NSA
Despite the impact of Snowden’s disclosures, some experts in the intelligence community believe that no amount of global concern or outrage will affect the Five Eyes relationship, which to this day remains the most extensive known espionage alliance in history.
The Emergence of “Boutique” Terrorism
Recently extremists groups based in conflict hotspots have called on sympathisers in Western countries to take the initiative and plan and execute terrorist actions locally with little or no external assistance.
Simplistically many people tend to seek to place terrorist attacks into one of two categories: low-tech, independent operations by individuals (“lone wolf”) or small groups (“wolf packs”), or complex and large scale operations resourced and commanded by organizations.
The last six months has seen a profusion of low-level attacks across Europe and North America, giving the impression that even slightly larger attacks – involving higher-calibre weaponry or better preparation – must represent formal plots by established terrorist groups.
In the Hebdo case, the attackers themselves claimed to have been sent by AQAP, which itself claimed to have “directed” the plot. But we should treat this claim sceptically. As the Australian counterterrorism analyst Leah Farrall reminds us, the al-Qaeda operatives who attacked US embassies in 1998 were given only general instructions to strike Americans.
Al-Qaeda’s leadership learned of the targets while the attack was under way. This is closer to inspiration or encouragement than direction or command. This was the model in the Paris attacks, particularly as AQAP’s past plots have been built around advanced bombs rather than the use of gunmen. Amidst the rise of IS, al-Qaeda – and especially its Yemeni branch – remains a potent threat for this type of action.


However, the Paris attacks are not a new kind of terrorism. The use of gunmen, the seizure of hostages, the focus on screen-time rather than death toll, and the role played by complex networks of individuals cutting across different countries and groups have been features of attacks over the past 50 years. The new challenge isn’t the prioritisation of threats, but the growing mismatch between the number of potential threats and limited resources.
Cell” Structures & Suicidal Tendencies
Many of the recent plots appear to have been developed without foreign direction which minimises the possibility of eavesdropping. The concept of the “terrorist cell” developed in the 1970s to counter the prevailing intelligence gathering techniques at that time were difficult, if not bordering on the impossible, to detect.
For example in the 1970’s the IRA overhauled its internal structures, greatly reducing the numbers of volunteers who engaged in attacks and organising them into closed cells, or “active service units”, so that the information any one IRA man would have about the organisation would be limited to five or six people.
This process reduced the numbers of active IRA personnel greatly. At its peak in the early 1970s, the Belfast Brigade had had up to 1,500 members. By the early 1980s, this had been reduced to about 100 men in active service units and another 200-300 in supporting roles.
The cell structure also increased the control of the Brigade’s leadership over its volunteers, since all weapons were held by one “quartermaster” attached to each unit and could only be used for operations authorised by the Brigade leadership.
The objective was to preserve high value operatives and their skills for continued and ongoing use against their targets.
With the emergence of the extremist jihadi threat in Europe in recent years and the seemingly vast pool of resources from which these groups can draw from – the “cell” structure is used to avoid detection pre-event but not so much concerned with the preservation of the “cell”, “lone wolf” or “wolf packs” post event. 

Manpower has ceased to be an issue.
Where plots use more easily available resources, such as firearms rather than sophisticated explosives, then the challenges faced in implementing a robust prevention strategy are exponentially greater.
The reasons for the decision by the French intelligence services to lift their surveillance of Said Kouachi after his return from Yemen is not clearly known. Likely it was based on balancing the perceived threat from Kouachi versus other competing threats and was also informed by what initial surveillance of him had yielded post his return to France.
It is a matter of the size of the competing needles in a very large haystack rather than an example of an intelligence failure or a systemic problem with the tactics being employed by the French authorities.
Information Myopia
Intelligence agencies globally suffer from a modern problem best defined as “information myopia”*. There is simply too much data available from too many sources much of which is of questionable value but all of which ends up in the same “cube” available for analysis. Extending the remit and sources that are under the surveillance lens will only exacerbate this problem and will not necessarily lead to improved security outcomes.
If the “cube” of data to be analysed is vast then the sieving process that is employed is the key to the success of the analysis. This sieving process though is currently largely based on keywords or watchwords and prone to error. Unless a would be attacked is incredibly naïve then most of this processes effectiveness is rendered useless.
Pattern analysis too has its pitfalls – simply because someone is a frequent visitor to sites that would seem to indicate extremism does not make them an extremist. What about researchers, journalists, the genuinely curious?
There is reason to think that the French failed to get some information they ought to have had. The Kouachi brothers had succeeded in building up a cache of arms in their apartment. Neighbours discovered that cache, but they were then intimidated into silence.
This, however, might represent more a failure of local policing – and poor relations between the local Muslim community and the authorities – than national intelligence. Nevertheless, assault rifles and rocket launchers are not easily available in Western Europe, and the French authorities could reasonably be expected to have had a tighter grip on the supply networks.

* The terms “myopia” and “myopic” (or the common terms “short-sightedness” or “short-sighted”, respectively) have been used metaphorically to refer to cognitive thinking and decision making that is narrow in scope or lacking in foresight or in concern for wider interests or for longer-term consequences. It is often used to describe a decision that may be beneficial in the present, but detrimental in the future, or a viewpoint that fails to consider anything outside a very narrow and limited range. Hyperopia, the biological opposite of myopia, may also be used metaphorically for a value system or motivation that exhibits “farsighted” or possibly visionary thinking and behavior; that is, emphasizing long-term interests at the apparent expense of near-term benefit.

What is the French word for PRISM?

Last December (2014) the French government published a decree enacting an internet surveillance law that was passed a year before. The measure allowed authorities ‘administrative access to connection data,’ and came into force on the 1st January 2015. The decree, providing French officials with access to data from a wide range of telecom services in the country – including phone calls, text messages and internet access by both private users and operators – was published over the Christmas holidays, France’s Le Point reported. 
The legislation was passed in December last year, and was a surprise to many as less than two months before it was approved, the country’s president François Hollande – during a phone conversation with Barack Obama – expressed his “deep disapproval” at revelations that the NSA had been intercepting millions of phone calls in France, having described it as an “unacceptable practice.” 
Notwithstanding that comment from 1st January 2015, the French government itself is in control of its residents’ connection data, with an “interdepartmental group” being in charge of security interceptions and administrative access, gathering requests for certain data and obtaining it from operators. Departments, authorized to issue data requests, include several branches within the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Defense and a directorate at the Ministry of Finance. 
Laws, empowering state officials to monitor the population by means of communication and information access, have been passed under the flag of protection from the terrorist threat. Powers, granted to the government by the new surveillance law, have been met with protests in France. Before it was eventually enacted, authorities set up an oversight body – National Control Commission for Security Interceptions (CNCIS), which will supervise governmental data control powers. Although it is allowed to oversee documents and information asked to be disclosed to the authorities, it has no power to sanction anyone, or alert any third party of an alleged abuse.
“THIS IS NOT A FRENCH PATRIOT ACT” – Prime Minister Manuel Valls
From the 13th April 2015 French lawmakers spent four days debating a controversial anti-terrorism bill that, if passed, would dramatically expand the government’s surveillance powers. 


The law’s backers describe it as a necessary measure to thwart terrorist attacks, and it has strong support on both sides of the aisle. But the bill has drawn sharp criticism from French internet companies over fears that it could harm business, and from privacy advocates who say it would severely curtail civil liberties. 

The proposed law would allow the government to monitor emails and phone calls of suspected terrorists and their contacts, without seeking authorization from a judge. Telecommunications and internet companies would be forced to automatically filter vast amounts of metadata to flag suspicious patterns, and would have to make that data freely available to intelligence services. Agents would also be able to plant cameras and bugs in the homes of suspected terrorists, as well as key-loggers to track their online behavior.

Privacy International, Amnesty International, and other human rights organizations expressed alarm over the bill when it was announced last month, urging Parliament to give it careful scrutiny. It’s also been criticized by the National Digital Council, which advises France’s government on technological issues, and by several French web hosting companies, which say the threat of constant government intrusion would undermine their business. 

Of particular concern is the provision requiring telecoms to automatically filter internet traffic. Under the law, internet service providers would have to install monitoring mechanisms — referred to by the French media as “black boxes” — that would use algorithms to detect, in real time, suspicious behaviors in internet metadata. 

The bill’s supporters stress that this metadata would remain anonymous and that content of communications would not be automatically swept up, but the behaviors that would constitute a “terrorist-like” pattern are still unclear. Critics say the measure effectively amounts to mass surveillance of web traffic on a disproportionately large scale. 

Under the bill, recordings could be stored for up to one month, and metadata for up to five years. France’s current data protection laws date back to 1978, and are among the strongest in Europe. “It’s a comprehensive data protection framework that applies to both the public sector and all industries,” Fabrice Naftalski, a data privacy attorney and partner at the legal firm EY in Paris, says of current French law. “Protection of personal data is a fundamental right.” 

But the country’s counter-terrorism laws haven’t been revised since 1991, which was the original impetus behind drafting this bill last summer. The legislation took on a new sense of urgency following January’s attacks, when Valls moved to fast-track it for passage by this summer. (A vote is expected early next month.)

It seems 2,000,000 East German HUMINT Stasi assets have been supplanted by 66,000,000 French SIGINT black boxes. Thats progress – at least technologically.  

References & Acknowledgements
  1. Perspectives on Terrorism The Modus Operandi of Jihadi Terrorists in Europe by Petter Nesser and Anne Stenersen terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/388/html
  2. The XX Committee: Intelligence, Strategy, and Security in a Dangerous World – www.20committee.com
  3. Darktrace – www.darktrace.com
  4. al-Araby al-Jadeed – http://www.alaraby.co.uk/english
  5. The Verge – www.theverge.com
  6. Russia Today – www.RT.com
  7. Science X Network – www.phys.org
  8. The Long War Journal – www.longwarjournal.org
  9. Academia – www.academia.com
  10. TMG Corporate Services – www.tmgcorporateservices.com
  11. Al Jazeera – www.aljazeera.com
  12. Al Monitor – www.al-monitor.com
  13. Le Monde 
  14. Le Figaro 
  15. Le Point
  16. Die Welt 
  17. CNN 
  18. Fox News 
  19. TIME Magazine –
  20. The New York Times 
  21. The Washington Post
  22. The Times 
  23. The Mail on Sunday 
  24. The Telegraph 
  25. Wikipedia

France’s contradictory stance continues to stupify

It would appear that the Obama administration is de-listing Iran as a state-sponsor of terror in order to reach a deal on nuclear weapons development. The administration is also intent on de-listing terrorist group Hezbollah, according to sources, leading to the bizarre situation where a clearly radical terrorist Islamic group is being described by this “basket-case” administration as a legitimate organization. 

This is one of those rare situations where even though Iranian Shi’a backed militias and Hezbollah are fighting against ISIL the adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is not applicable. Remember Iran and Hezbollah support the Assad regime in Syria – the lack of support from the West to rebels fighting Assad since 2011 facilitated the rise of ISIL. Not content with that extremely poor outcome it now seems that Iran and Hezbollah can look forward to being given a freer rein in the pursuit of their equally extreme agendas in return for their support in fighting ISIL and so that Obama can claim an ego driven victory as he fiddles and waits to exit the White House after eight disastrous years of foreign policy decisions. Decisions which Europe is starting to pay dearly for and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

That would seem like enough bad news for Israel this week but amazingly less that three months after the Hebdo attacks and other outrages perpetuated by radical Islamists in France the deluded French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called for a relaunch of the Middle East peace process based on a two-state solution.

“Only the creation of viable sovereign Palestinian state… will ensure peace and prosperity in the Middle East,” he said in a statement that called for negotiations to resume to achieve “a comprehensive and lasting peace accord.” The words “comprehensive” and “lasting” and “peace” do not exist in the Iranian or Hezbollah / Hamas / Fatah lexicon when discussing Israel and Fabius knows that. 
Netanyahu won a closely-fought election on Tuesday, during the election campaign, Netanyahu specifically stated that he would not accept the establishment of a Palestinian state. This is a key part of the two-state solution backed by the EU and France in December 2014. Netanyahu had previously accepted this concept in 2009 before the Palestinian Authority demonstrated that their intention was and still is a policy of no compromise dismantling and destruction of the Israeli state.  
Palestinian Authority leaders reacted negatively to Netanyahu’s victory, expressing fear that the Israeli leader would thwart efforts to establish a Palestinian state. Now France sticks in its nose with a sweeping and unrealistic statement which once again shows those that seek to undermine Western society and Israel that they still have sponsors at the highest level of European politics. 
With Iran being courted by the US and seemingly allowed to continue towards the objective of possessing nuclear weapons, with Obama openly hostile to Netanyahu and Israeli interests, with ISIL attacking Lebanon and Hamas vowing a fresh spate of attacks on Israel does it seem realistic to ask Israelis to allow the creation of an openly hostile and extremist nation on its doorstep?
France once again adds its voice to a debate where in the past it has always been found to be lacking and where its follow through has always lagged behind its rhetoric. Does guilt play a part? It was the drawing of borders in the Middle East by France and Great Britain after World War 1, with total disregard for ethnic or historical precedent (solely based on self interest), that has allowed subsequent generations to inherit the Middle East problem. 
France has domestic problems that it should focus its attention on before confusing the international debate on issues where it has nothing constructive to add. The liberal agenda in France has always been perceived to hold sway to such an extent that the nation is uncompetitive and which policies, showing a complete disregard for its citizens, have led to a sustained and steady rise of far-right wing support in France. 
The EU and France in particular with a well worn and clearly “unfit for purpose” policy of appeasement towards radical Islam need to accept that concessions such as these will buy no good will or long term strategy alterations from those that seek to undermine all that the West and France holds dear. The rest of Europe should not pay the price for France’s lack of control of immigration since the 1960’s where policy is now being dictated by a sizeable section of voters whose ideals are fundamentally at odds with traditional European values. 
France does not speak for Europe, the current French government does not represent the views of its citizens, liberal France in its appeasement of radical Islam is as dangerous as the threat it seeks to appease. Fix your own house France before looking to cast aspersions on the state of others.

Graham Penrose